To Downward Dog or Not.

 Adho Mukha Svanasana Downward Dog

A foundational yoga posture that resembles exactly what its name says, …a stretching dog’

For some of us  this posture can be a beautiful shape to explore. There’s an energy within the pose that transcends from the base, (the hands and feet), through the body, up to its apex (the hips and sitbones). There’s a strength, stability, and openness to this triangular shape, that when embodied invites in a steady, rhythmic breath to calm and bring us back to centre.

At least that the intention….

The alignment in this image felt good to me at the precise timing of the camera shot. That’s not to say, that the second or third time I moved into Adho Mukha Svanasana the angle and alignment of my body may have changed.

The posture itself requires a certain amount of joint mobility through the ankles, shoulders, and wrists as well as activation or contraction of muscles through the arms, shoulders, upper back, and legs. All this to achieve the sensation of stretching though the whole body in an inverted shape that builds strength and stability in our form and calmness through the breath and mind.

Sometimes the perfect fit arrives when you are least looking for it

In a general 60 min class there’s not a lot of time to workshop and practise exploring adjustments to find the perfect fit. Sometimes the perfect fit takes many classes to find, and sometimes the perfect fit arrives when you are least looking for it.

                     There’s a reason yoga is called a practice

There’s a reason yoga is called a practice. Not a practise in perfection, but a practice of consistency, so that in time our body moves intuitively into shapes, our breath moves in synchronicity with our movement, our mind settles, our nervous system relaxes, and our body begins to yield rather than push its way through.


The next time you are in class and move into Downward Dog…take a moment to breathe, soften the knees, adjust the width of your arms and placement of the hands, begin from the base of the hands and feet and begin to activate the fronts of the legs, the upper back, curl the front ribs in and lift the hips a little. If it feels good stay, if it doesn’t adjust. There is never any benefit to staying with pain.

Some adjustments that may work for you:

  • forearms down, knees bent a little deeper, moving between tabletop and Downward Dog.
  • Blocks under hands to bring the floor towards you
  • Rolled blanket or towel beneath the heels to prevent over stretching through the Achilles.
  • Use a chair or wall to lessen the angle.
  • Find puppy pose – on hands and knees and draw chest towards the ground.
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Your yoga practice is yours.

Only you know how each movement, each breath and each posture feels in your body.

Be kind, be gentle, be strong, be you.